Monday, March 19, 2018

Survival Of The Fittest

**Photo courtesy of**

The newest version of Tomb Raider is now being shown in theatres. Reprising the role of Lara Croft comes a younger protégé who is just as much of a globetrotting adventure seeker as the original  played by Angelina Jolie.

When you see the trailers for this movie, there's no lack of action, suspense, or incredible death defying scenes showing the young Croft, seemingly, plummeting to her death. All the while, the voice of Beyoncé is heard in the background belting out the words, "I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up..."

It's hard not to get caught up in the mood and intentional Hollywood drama of the film when you see the best parts in a commercial. It makes you feel that if Lara Croft can do all that and survive, surely, my life can be the same.

There are a lot of shows that highlight extraordinary situations showing a dramatic fight, rescue, or emotional scene and ending with a hard-to-believe conclusion. That's the magic of television and film. However, some real life situations don't end in a superhero fashion. Sometimes, life gets hard and you begin to wonder if you will ever survive.

I have been struggling with my own life and the things that happen in it, wondering if I am making the right decisions for myself, in line with what God wants for me. What if I don't exactly know what that is? Knowing I can decide and make choices is great, but can't that be dangerous? Almost like engaging in my own suspenseful, death defying adventure movie. While having that freedom can be exhilarating, I feel as though there has to be some light treading. After all, there is no single choice in the world that does not come without consequences.

Just like Lara Croft, I could easily have a crazy adventure. The thought of something different is exciting and refreshing but what lies on the other side after the newness of it wears off? Just like each subsequent adventure that young Croft experiences. Being battered and bruised after each situation has to get really old after a while. Oh, if only life could be a Hollywood movie and if we don't like the direction it's taking, we yell, "Cut!" and try another take, a different way.

Trying to choose wisely, while seemingly freely, must be entered into with great caution. Some choices result in an outcome that can be quite horrible. My thoughts go to Jesus, the Son of God, as He could have chosen not to endure the horrible and painful destination of the Cross. His short ministry was radical and exciting, especially for those who followed Him as He did miracles and fed thousands of people with a couple loaves of bread and a few fish.

Yet, Christ always knew why He was there and to show others, in dramatic ways, how far He would go to save those He loved. The final take of His ministry would be the death defying scene that had no stunt double or the yelling of 'cut' because it didn't look right. He was facing something dramatic...death on the Cross, in order to save the world from all the things that we were just trying to survive. While I am glad it wasn't me who had to hang on that Cross, the enormity of the sacrifice is never lost on me.

Life can be fun and exciting and choices can be made, but it's important to note that the choices made should be ones you can live with and survivable in every way.

Encouragement for the week:

Life is filled with excitement and adventure and we are able to make all kinds of decisions at any time. Be sure that the choices you make are the ones of which the consequences can be lived with.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God gave you a free will to do as you wish and make the choices you desire to make. God wants us to make the right choices in line with His Word and will for our lives. Don't take chances with your freedom to choose.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He will help you to make the right choices, at the right time in your life. That's how much He cares for you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Perplexed In The City

**Photo courtesy of**

The other day I drove to the city (*shudder*). I used to live in a city with over a million people for almost 11 years. At one time, I thought it was the place to be because of its action, fast pace, exciting night life and all the conveniences you could possibly want.

About three and a half years ago, I moved out to the country. What was interesting is that every desire to be in a big city, instantly, left me. The enormity of city life no longer drew me and that excited me. As did the slower pace, longer walks, and sitting up against a bale of hay for hours while sunshine splashed on my face. Things only found in wide, open spaces like the farm I live on.

So, when this trip to the city was required, I began to notice a difference in me. There was anxiety, irritability, and impatience. My heart began to race as I joined the mass of other motorists getting to where they needed to go. I didn't like what was happening in or around me. It felt like insanity.

Every minute of being in the city brought a curiosity of when we were going to leave. I was in the midst of everything I, now, disliked. Yet, I made the best of it and was delighted when it was time to leave and having peace again, increasingly, as I drove further away. Another confirmation that this girl was no longer fit for city life.

It seems that I am not alone in this sentiment. In fact, the Bible talks about Jesus, the Son of God, as a solitary man. While He did great things in the towns and communities He visited, healing and saving people, He valued His time away from everything and everyone.

He craved solitude. It was a time of refreshment and intimacy with His Father, God. He would, often, steal away from the crowds to be alone and pray. In a book called Mark (one of Jesus' disciples), he talks about Jesus as a man who looked forward to being alone. In chapter 1, verse 35, Mark writes, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

I'm not sure in whose house Jesus was staying, but it's obvious He liked His alone time. Perhaps, that's why I enjoy the country life so much. I crave the solitude and openness to meet with my Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. I long to get away from the craziness that life can, sometimes, throw at me. There is peace and contentment that I find every time, without fail, in that solitary place.

Encouragement for the week:

Does the city life gang up on you sometimes? It certainly had an unsavory effect on me in so many ways. Slowing down and taking time in a solitary place is something we should all invest in.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we are called to be in solitude with God so that we can better deal with the difficulties and disappointments of life. Take every opportunity you can to be in a solitary place with the Lord.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. The quiet and restful places you long for can be found in the loving arms of Jesus. You will find peace and contentment with Him, away from the busyness of life.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Home Sweet Home

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Throughout most of my domestic career, my status has been renter. It was only for a short period of time that I was a homeowner but that was a common law arrangement that ended in disaster. So, I continue to rent. I know there are negative aspects associated with renting but I haven't had a desire to own again.

Though each one of my rental experiences has been different, one thing remains the same - I treat every rental as if it were my home. That is, I respect both the property and the space that I'm living in. I keep things clean and don't abuse the privileges I have of renting someone else's space. After all, it is still theirs whether they live in the building or not.

I never had wild parties or let garbage build up. There weren't friends who slept on my couch to sleep off a hangover or was loud music ever being played at all hours of the night. As rebellious as I was in action over many of my years, I was always responsible when it came to renting whether it was a room in a house, basement suite or entire house. There was just no other way.

That's why it baffles me when I hear stories about renters who have destroyed property that isn't theirs. I just can't wrap my head around why a property that isn't theirs would be so disrespected. For the past couple years I've taken on the responsibility of managing a property and I have seen first-hand what can happen in a rental situation. How one person's home can be completely taken for granted and abused by others. It is upsetting to see.

Then I have to stop myself and keep in mind that not everyone lives as I would which is still a bit bizarre because, at the end of the day, I think common sense and respect should preside over most things.

However, in my own human nature, I have to shift to other things otherwise what I have seen can upset me and consume my every thought. Seeing the unkempt reality actually reminded me of how many people have no home to go to. No rental to pay in exchange for a dry, warm, and safe environment. Then my thoughts go to all the homeless near me and far from me and I become saddened.

In the Bible, there is a man who never had a home of his own, not permanently on Earth anyway. That man was Jesus. Though He traveled many miles helping people and doing miraculous things, He never had a place to call home. In a book called Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples, Matthew writes the words of Jesus who said, "Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20).

That, alone, puts things into perspective for me, especially when I am confused and upset about something as insignificant as dirty walls or carpets that are not vacuumed. It could be a lot worse I suppose.

Encouragement for the week:

As a homeowner, you don't want to see anything get damaged if you have decided to turn your home into a rental property but, realistically, things will happen. That's where you have to be somewhat removed from getting too upset.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that our earthly homes are temporary and that we are to have our eyes turned to our eternal home in heaven which will never wear down. During the tough times of life, especially if you are a landlord, remember where your true home is.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He cares for you and He has a wonderful home planned for you when you enter into a relationship with Him.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Private Eyes

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Whether the song by Hall and Oates or the television series (reviving Jason Priestly's career...oh, Beverly Hills 90210!), private eyes are watching you. Seems like everything you do or say is being seen and scrutinized by other people.

While being under watchful eyes can be beneficial, our politically correct society has been certain to bring all you do and say under the microscope and shared with millions.

Some finger wagging borders on the ridiculous but, for the most part, hurtful. For example, the shaming of nursing mothers. A function that is the most natural after childbirth. Yet, some have felt it necessary to express their disgust when a mother, while covered up, breastfeeds her children in public.

It amazes me how backward the world has become. How male and female can be pitted against each other. That there can be mistrust, deception, and hurt in our midst but it appears to be that way for the time being.

I guess I just don't understand it at times until I find myself with an attitude that can cause me to say or do the wrong things. Then I know that my heart isn't in the right place, that it's hurting and so is the reason for many others who lash out. Then I recall the universal phrase of, "Hurt people, hurt people."

In my own life, I have been on both the giving and receiving end of watching eyes. I have been the one to slew insults and shame on those who perturbed me. I also received shaming and reprimands from others who believed they knew better.

However, after I had an encounter with God and my life changed radically, my heart of stone had been softened and I began to see and feel the hurt of people around me. It was unbelievable to me but so needed.

These days, I am very thankful to have the watchful eyes of my Heavenly Father on me at all times. He helps to guide and direct my life in ways that are best. There is a book in the Bible written by a prophet named Isaiah who talks about God's involvement in our life direction.

In Isaiah 30:21, there is a reference to God's watchful eyes, saying, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it."" (Isaiah 30:21)

To me, having that kind of navigation is priceless and it saves me from having to retrace any wrong steps and move into the place that I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to do, for the best God has planned for me.

Encouragement for the week:

Ever feel like someone is always watching you, criticizing everything you do or say, not really having an interest in what's best and good for you?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God does not shame you about anything you have done or said. He always watches over you. His love for you is unconditional and His ways and discipline in your life are best. Keep following that still, small voice that gives you direction for your life.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is not interested in where you have been or what you have done. He is not interested in making you feel bad about past choices. He is, however, very interested in you and your life right now. He wants to keep His eyes on you so that you have the very best in your life while going in the right direction.

Monday, February 19, 2018

I Mrs. Doubtfire It!!

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially when you are Robin Williams' character in Mrs. Doubtfire. A beloved tale of one father's heart cry to be with his kids when his marriage dissolves.

As his time goes from full to part with them, he does what any father would do out of love for his kids...he becomes a woman?? Not just any woman but a well rounded, British woman with a flair for the sarcastic. My kind of lady!

Famous lines like, "Brace yourself Effie!", and, "Oh, it was a drive-by fruiting!", pale in comparison to the signature look and fashion statement of the lead character, Euphegenia Doubtfire.

Hijinx ensues and this staunch gal is met with one difficult situation after another. However, it isn't long before Robin Williams' true identity is revealed and his desperate efforts to spend more time with his kids are over. He's devastated.

While the movie ended with an amicable arrangement between the divorced spouses, desperate times can make us do some extreme things. I have been desperate - to have a relationship with my son, be married, and come to a place of true contentment about myself. It was hard for me to accept disappointment when my desperation only brought heartache.

Many of us strive to gain things in our lives that might not be good for us. Unfortunately, it's after times of desperation, anxiety, fear, and discouragement that make us realize the things we were running after weren't worth pursuing.

I can really relate to Robin Williams' plight in the movie. Honestly, I probably would have done the same thing. Yet, when I entered into a relationship with God and started to learn about His ways and see things from His perspective, I learned to slow down and my desperation faded.

I still desire the things I once was desperate for but I can, now, react in a way that helps, not hurts, me. It has taken a long time and I still fight impatience, but not nearly as much.

But I know a man who was so desperate, that he gave his life. This man was Jesus Christ (the Son of God), and His desperation was for the people of the world. For the lost, broken, and hurting.

His desperation was so great, that He suffered crucifixion on a cross in order for you and I to be saved from our own desperation. Isn't that amazing?

It doesn't compare to the things I believe I need to be desperate about. Not even close.

Encouragement for the week:

Have you been in a time of desperation similar to that of Robin Williams' character? Did your reaction to it bring good results?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that Jesus' desperation for you is reason enough to lay down the things you feel desperate about. He is our rescuer in times like that and He will never disappoint.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is completely desperate for you because of His love to see you come close to Him. He will help you in the agonizing things of your life.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Triple Threat

"Do not be anxious about anything..." - Philippians 4:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

I believe fear, anxiety, and worry are the greatest feelings that plague us. There are mornings I wake up wrought with anxiety. There is no discernible reason or explanation for the anxiety, it's just there and very real.

I know a lot of people who worry about many things. Sadly, the time spent worrying is long and robs them of joy and peace in life. There are even statistics that state most or all of the things we worry about will never happen.

Then there's fear. Fear of failing is a big one. It stops many from stepping out in a different life direction, trying something that could have the potential of being exciting and of extreme blessing. Yet, if you asked successful people how they became successful, the common answer would be how many times they failed before realizing notoriety.

Whether pursuing a new career, travelling to a new destination, or overcoming the fear and anxiety of being rejected, failure will be a part of that journey. The secret is to ignore the doubt and discouragement that stalks you along the way. How do you do that?

For me, I haven't been able to overcome the biggest fears, anxieties, and worries in my life without the help of Jesus. No matter what I have faced, as scary as it's been, it's my relationship with Him that has brought me peace and courage while tackling some of the greatest obstacles.

Also, reading the Bible and seeing promises that uplift and strengthen, throughout its pages, have been life and situation changing for me. It's within the promises of Scripture that I have found the best rescue in my own anxiety.

It's not always easy to navigate a world that holds unrealistic expectations on us. That's why I turn to the truth contained in the Bible because I know it is good and real and its truth never changes.

In a book called Matthew in the Bible, it says not to worry because nothing comes of it except wasted time. You won't add hours to your life if you worry. Instead, you'll lose a part of yourself if you do.

Being fixed on things like that which are said in the Bible, I, honestly, sleep better at night and wake up in the morning, anxiety free. So "Do not be anxious about anything..." (Philippians 4:6), and you will be able to enjoy the better things in life.

Encouragement for the week:

If you find yourself worrying, you're not alone. Sometimes getting caught up in worry and anxiety can happen but you don't need to stay there.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know the great promises God offers within His Word and a relationship with Him that dispels any kind of worry, fear, or anxiety that life has the potential of bringing. Stay rooted in His Word and hold tight to His promises.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He holds the secret to taking away the unsettling thoughts and feelings you face in your life.

Monday, February 5, 2018

One Flu Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Being sick is...sickening. A cold/flu invades your body, forcing it into a state of homeostasis and hibernation. Your immune system throws a party you never gave permission for with a guest list you you never invited.

The chills and body aches are nothing compared to the unwanted close and intimate relationship you've forged with your toilet. Not to mention coughing up a lung, blowing your nose til it bleeds, and having a cotton mouth that dares to strangulate you because of the need to breathe, solely, from the mouth...for days. Spectacular (mind the sarcasm).

I managed to 'joyfully' experience both a cold and flu in the span of six weeks. While I managed to soldier through the cold and, somewhat, navigate work with most of my brain cells intact, the flu was a whole other mess. While I'm now in the final stretch of the flu, thankfully, I was completely useless in the midst of it. Having no energy or real thought processes, however, did offer something that I found comforting.

Relief. An audible sigh of relief came as my body succumbed to the flu that had taken over. In the few days of having it, I had no worries or anxieties and even though it wasn't the most ideal way to achieve calm, it did have a way of clearing my mind, allowing me to

I could relax and, more easily, let go of the things that had been plaguing my thoughts. My unfortunate situation had become an unexpected, but pleasant, expedition into the places of my mind that I would try and visit from time to time, but was something busyness and obligation would steal.

Without coercion, I could ponder and feel without restriction or cross examination, if only by my own reason. Consideration was given to the things I would normally fear, while overruling and dismissing them. Great and lucid logic filled my mind even as my body was weakened.

Dare I say, it was wonderful. I actually had no fear at a time I was most vulnerable. I began to think that I needed to be this incapacitated more often. I quickly realized what I had just contemplated and snapped back to reality.

In all honesty, though, there were no real pressures while being sick and as I wouldn't wish these ailments on anyone, I would recommend a time of solitude. When everything in your mind and life are completely and immediately released so that you can be still. So that you can think and feel freely, being vulnerable to yourself.

Encouragement for the week:

While a sickness is never welcome, I have come to appreciate the reprieve it offers from real life. Maybe you can relate?

I pray that you are not suffering from a serious ailment but that you are able to understand the purpose behind the down time.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we don't plan on becoming sick but, sometimes, God does permit certain ailments to come over our bodies so that we will be quiet and without concern. Sometimes, He allows things to get our attention. Be open to what God may be wanting to say to you during this down time.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the goodness He has for all times in your life.